Saturday was the Ann Arbor Book Festival. As I was scheduled to do a panel and wanted to see the awards ceremoney for the young writers contest I judged, we packed up the husband and child and off we went.
Alexander fell asleep in the car on the way, so Tim dropped me off while he found a place to park so Alexander could sleep himself out (waking Alexander in the middle of a spontaneous nap should be avoided if at all possible, it leads to crabby-badness).
It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. The fest initially looked to be about a block of tents -- booksellers alternating with events pavillions. At the t-shirt vendors, I got directions the author check-in/information tent. There they did not have a name tag for me, nor my name on any of their lists. Fortunately, they believed me when I said I was supposed to be there, and I did find my own name on the schedule. I then asked where the tent for the awards was. While they were directing me, another woman came up saying that the people at that tent said the awards WEREN'T happening there, and were turning inquiring people away.
Not a propitious start. Info booth lady did escort us to tent, which was around the corner from the main fest in between A2s famous bell tower and The World's Ugliest Fountain (no, really, it is) and helped determine that this was, indeed the place.
In the place, the current speaker was talking about how he'd helped the Mastadon become Michigan's State Fossil. Overhead, the carrilon chimed the hour, and the tent began to fill up with very tense kids, and their equally tense parents, and he kept talking, and kept talking, for at least ten minutes before somebody in charge asked him to wrap it up.
Okay, Michigan's State Fossil was finally finished, and the awards ceremoney began. Nice ceremoney. Talk from a YA author. All the finalists got certificates. The prize money was quite hefty for this sort of thing ($100, $250, $350). These kids were quite talented and had clearly worked hard and taken the whole thing seriously. I'd made comments on all the mss. I read, and these got handed out to the kids I'd judged, and I was also able to catch up with the one young woman who'd written the one story I read and could say with confidence, "This, as is, is publishable." Due to my fellow judge's...differing opinions on literary merit, she didn't place, but I told her what I thought of the story, and gave her the Speculations website, telling her to go there and find some markets, and start submitting. I also talked to her friend, who also had not placed, but had written a charming story, and encouraged her to keep at it, and to the second place winner, who, if he learns more about structure has it in him to be truly great, IMHO. So, that all felt really good.
After the awards, used the cell to locate husband and child, who were strolling a block away. We decided to go to our favorite hot dog dive Red Hot Lovers for lunch (it is a dive. I'd call it a greasy spoon, but there are no spoons). Best hot dogs in a town where the other great hot dog place is run by a Cordon Bleu chef. Dogs and waffle fries were cheerfully consumed by all.
Back to the fest to stroll about looking at the booths. There, we ran into fellow UWGer and panelist Anne Harris and repaired to a deli where Anne got lunch and we got ice cream. Then, Tim took Alexander to the Border's children's section, one of his favorite places to run around, bless him, and Anne and I went to our panel, where we hooked up with another friend of hers, also on the panel.
The panel itself was "Cutting Edge Fiction." For the life of me, I don't know what I was doing on this panel. I don't _like_ much of what passes as cutting-edge. I sure as heck don't _write_ anything that would pass as it. And I'm afraid Anne, David and I POed the remaining panelist Steve by coming down hard on radically experimental narrative structure. Dave got off the best line on that, "You have to react, but you have to control what you're reacting to." Me, I decided in the middle of the panel that the truly cutting edge approach to the written word right now was the graphic novel.
So, after this, I find out I was supposed to be doing a signing. I didn't know this, 'cause I'd never been sent an "author packet" about what all I was supposed to be doing. Sigh. Well, I went to the table, sponsered by Nicola's books, where are good buds, and sat with Anne and David.
This was where the building architecture came into play in a bad way. Panel and signing were held in the university's Modern Languages Building (the MLB). I know this building. I spent _way_ too much time in this building as a student. It's an octagon, with no two walls the same length. The corridors run in a full "circle," but the corners are sharp and frequent, and there are no signs or landmarks, so, the room (or table) you're looking for could be ten feet away, but there's no way to know that, and if you start off in the wrong direction, you end up walking five times as far as you need to. I HATE this building. You could be, as we were, in plain sight in the middle of the hall and be impossible to find. Which we were.
The good thing here was our fellow author at the table was a man who had just written a new book about the underground railroad, and I had a great time chatting with him about his book and research. Much fun.
But, I've got to say. This is the 3rd year I've done the A2 book fest, and it's the 3rd year their organization has been terrible. The first one, I was more than willing to cut them some slack. It was a new thing, and the guy responsible apologized for the lack of organization. Second year, looked like they were getting it together. This year...almost as bad as the first. We're outgrowing the puppy stage here. They really need to get it together.
Signed stock. Tim and Alexander came in. David, Anne & the Family agreed we should all go out for an early dinner, and we went to Cottage Inn for Pizza. Alexander fell asleep again on the way, so we got in much adult conversation over excellent pizza and salad. And then to home.